Children & Families First

A Glimpse into the Work of Family Success Center Career Coach Melissa Tearry

Helping young children and families reach their full potential: it’s what Melissa Tearry has been doing since she started at Guilford Child Development six years ago. A former Learning Together intern-turned-teacher, Melissa spent her initial years at GCD focused on educating children of immigrants and refugees; but her focus shifted in 2019 when she became a Career Coach in the Family Success Center, an integrated services program funded by the United Way of Greater Greensboro to help low-income families further their education and acquire the skills necessary to secure and maintain sustainable employment and improve their overall well-being.
As a Career Coach, Melissa helps guide adults in achieving their personal goals, which can range from earning their GED or an advanced certification to getting a better paying job or buying a home. During a series of one-on-one coaching sessions, which have been virtual since the start of the pandemic, Melissa talks with participants about their goals, then devises a plan and timeline to help them see their goals to completion.
“Sometimes members come in and they don’t know what to do to meet their goals,” she said. “So, a lot of my work involves guidance, but it’s also supplemental in the fact that that I don’t ask members to do anything they’re not capable of. Signing up for a class, filling out a form, doing the research…it’s nothing they can’t handle, but their willingness to do it shows me how invested they are in the process.”
A strong advocate for educating others, Melissa has been deeply invested in making sure that the adults with whom she works realize the opportunities that are available to them. That’s why the work she and her “small but mighty” FSC teammates do is so important to her.
“I know from life experience that a lot of people don’t realize that they can do more or be more,” she said. “This program is a positive resource that helps people see that there’s more available to them than what they see around them every day. We can show them other avenues so they know they’re not stuck where they are.”
Melissa  conducts around 10 coaching sessions each week, and while the pandemic has halted face-to-face sessions, she says this time has challenged her and her team to be more intentional about their interactions with participants. Last year, they helped 28 FSC members secure employment at a time when unemployment rates were exceptionally high. It’s a significant accomplishment that goes back to the heart of why the Family Success Center and Career Coaches like Melissa play such an integral role in the work Guilford Child Development does each and every day.
“We’re here to show [members] other avenues so they know they’re not stuck where they are,” Melissa said. “They may not take the same path as someone else, but they can still get to where they need to be.

Click here to read about how Melissa supported FSC member, Alyssa in her push to find work, pay off her car and become a homeowner.

Where did you attend school? I graduated from UNCG with a degree in Human Development & Family Studies. I’ll be graduating from UNCG in May 2021 with a Master of Public Affairs in Nonprofit Management.


What are your hobbies? For the last two and a half years my “hobby” has been grad schooll. Outside of that, I read. Pre-COVID I loved to travel with my friends, short or long distance, didn’t matter.


What are you reading (or watching) these days? Reading is pretty much academic right now. I did binge watch Bridgerton on Netflix (so good), and I can often be found re-watching movies in the MARVEL Cinematic Universe.


If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why? I’d love to visit Seychelles to explore the cultures, culinary scene, and artistic vibes.